Cramps in dogs - Causes, symptoms and what to do

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Although they may be difficult to see with the naked eye, cramps in dogs they are more common than we usually imagine. Although this type of muscle problem can affect all dogs, it is usually especially common in sports dogs, since it is generally associated with trauma or injuries derived from excessive exercise. It is also common in older dogs by the natural degeneration of your muscle tissues throughout the aging process.

We often think of cramps as a "minor problem," but involuntary spasms in dogs can lead to Intense pain and end up damaging their quality of life and mobility. In this AnimalWised article, we invite you to learn more about cramps in dogs, their symptoms, main causes and how to prevent them.

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  1. What are cramps?
  2. Symptoms of cramps in dogs
  3. Causes of cramps in dogs
  4. What to do if your dog has cramps?
  5. How to prevent cramps in dogs?

What are cramps?

Cramps are a type of sudden muscle spasm, that is, a sudden and involuntary contraction of certain muscles. In theory, any muscle in the dog could be affected by cramps, but they tend to affect mainly the muscles of the legs and legs.

Although there are painless involuntary spasms, cramps in dogs are usually quite painful and the dog may be unable to move for a few minutes or more.

Symptoms of cramps in dogs

The intensity and duration of the symptoms that a dog presents when cramped will depend, logically, on the severity from cramps. The most characteristic symptoms of cramps in dogs are:

  • Muscular stiffness
  • Muscle pain
  • Inability to move

In the most serious cases, the dog can collapse and seizure, although these episodes are rare and infrequent.

Causes of cramps in dogs

As we have mentioned, the main cause of cramp in dogs is usually a excess exercise, or the inappropriate performance of some physical activity. In a context of overexertion, the muscle is subjected to a excessive or exaggerated tension, which can cause involuntary spasms. For this reason, sporty dogs or dogs that carry out a more demanding training routine can be more easily affected by these muscular problems..

However, there are also other causes of cramps muscles in dogs, such as:

  • Dehydration, especially common in dogs that don't hydrate properly during an exercise routine.
  • Leg or back injuries, derived from accidents, trauma, blows, fights, etc..
  • Brain tumors and neurological disorders that lead to a partial or total loss of nerve function.
  • Seizures, which can appear after trauma or as a symptom of an underlying disease, such as distemper or cancer in dogs, metabolic disorders, such as hypoglycemia, or due to congenital malformations.
  • Chronic stress, which usually causes excessive and permanent muscular stiffness facilitating the appearance of spasms and contractures in dogs.
  • Muscular weakness, which may be associated with an underlying disease, congenital malformations, poor nutrition, insufficient physical activity, or the aging process that leads to the degeneration of bone and muscle tissues.
  • Circulation problems, that can impair the oxygenation of the muscles and promote the development of cramps.
  • Degenerative diseases that affect the bones or muscles, leading to a long period of immobilization or the inability to move, such as osteoarthritis in dogs for example.

What to do if your dog has cramps?

Treatment for cramps in dogs will also depend on the intensity and frequency of the spasms, their specific cause, and the health status of each dog. Therefore, it is always recommended go to a veterinary center following the observation of recurring muscle problems, such as involuntary spasms and contractions in dogs.

If your dog is healthy, well trained and has suffered a mild cramp after a long session of physical exercise, his symptoms will most likely last only a few minutes. In these cases, it is important stop the activity immediately, keep your furry well hydrated and you can also give him very gentle massages on his legs to promote oxygenation of the tissues, relieve muscle stiffness and help him regain movements.

If you perceive that your dog has symptoms of dehydration, you can prepare a homemade serum for dehydrated dogs to help him balance his fluid and electrolyte levels.

Although emergency veterinary care is not necessary in cases of mild cramps, we recommend consulting a professional to verify the health of your dog and rule out the possibility of an injury due to overexertion. In addition, the vet can help you establish an exercise routine more appropriate to the age and physical condition of your dog, thus avoiding the appearance of new cramps.

If you notice that symptoms persist, your dog has muscle pain or cannot walk properly again, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible. These signs may indicate a more severe cramp or muscle injury, and your dog may need to go through rehabilitation with physical therapy (physiotherapy) to regain mobility..

On the other hand, if you perceive that your dog has frequent cramps, shows symptoms of muscle weakness, lameness, difficulty moving or avoids putting a leg on the ground, it will be essential to take it immediately to the veterinary center or hospital. Remember that muscle spasms and contractions can appear as a symptom of underlying diseases, that they must receive an adequate treatment according to the needs and the organism of each animal.

Cramps in older dogs can also be quite frequent, due to the progressive degeneration of their muscle and bone tissues. In these cases, the treatment will prioritize Improve Life Quality of each furry, being able to use physiotherapy and alternative therapies, such as acupuncture for dogs and relaxing massages to avoid sudden contractions.

It will also be essential that the furry has a comfortable and accessible environment, so that you do not need to make great efforts to move around the home and enjoy the company of your relatives.

How to prevent cramps in dogs?

For prevent sudden cramps and spasms in dogs, we must follow some basic guidelines, listed below.

  • Balance your dog's physical activity, according to his age, physical build, temperament and health status.
  • Keep your furry always well hydrated, especially during walks and training sessions.
  • Offer you a complete and balanced nutrition, meeting your nutritional requirements at each stage of your life.
  • It is preferable to exercise it in those hours that have the most pleasant temperatures, when it is not so hot or so cold.
  • Adopt a stretching routine before and after your physical training sessions.
  • Knowing how to respect and monitor the aging of your dog, providing essential care for elderly dogs.
  • Provide adequate preventive medicine to your furry throughout his life, making visits to the vet every 6 months, respecting his schedule of vaccinations and periodic deworming.

This article is merely informative, at we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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